By law, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is authorized to perform workplace inspections and investigations to ensure that companies are keeping their workers safe from various hazards. During these investigations, OSHA investigators determine whether or not the employers are in compliance with the agency's regulations or endangering their workforce.
What is the importance of follow-up inspections?
These inspections are so important because they enforce the 1970 act, outlining the right that "every working man and woman must be provided with a safe and healthful workplace." While OSHA officials are designed to conduct inspections in most industries, certain situations may warrant their immediate attention. The first priority goes to imminent danger situations, which is closely followed by catastrophes and fatal accidents. The next situations include complaints and referrals, programmed visits and finally, follow-up investigations.
After an OSHA investigation, the agency may present a company with various violations it must correct. Then, OSHA may initiate a follow-up visit, to confirm if the facility has addressed these hazards. If not, the consequences can be extremely severe.
The true high cost of uncorrected violations
Despite OSHA's commitment to keep workers safe on the job, many employers repeatedly fail to address potential hazards in their facilities. Even after an OSHA investigation, there are still companies that don't spend the money, time or effort to correct their violations. This is a costly mistake.
Earlier this year, OSHA followed up at a Connecticut mattress recycling company to verify that it had corrected its violations from a previous 2015 inspection. Unfortunately, the agency discovered new, reoccurring and uncorrected hazards, where the facility now faces $74,520 in proposed penalties. Two of the uncorrected violations include failing to create and implement a written hazard communication program and provide respirator training for its workers.
"Employers have a responsibility to maintain safe and healthful working conditions for their employees and to promptly and effectively correct hazards so they don't recur," Warren Simpson, OSHA's area director in Hartford, said. "They should be aware that OSHA can and does follow up to verify corrective action."
Results from another OSHA follow-up inspection at a New York manufacturing plant revealed that the facility failed to correct its fall hazard violation issued in a 2015 investigation. The company also allowed reoccurring electric shock hazards. This manufacturer now faces $87,520 in proposed fines.
"The penalties for this inspection reflect OSHA's commitment to hold employers responsible for failing to comply with safety standards, and to protect employee safety and health," Michael Scime, OSHA's area director in Buffalo, explained.
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